Netizens glad that Dr Tan, Dr Ting and Lee Hsien Yang did not put “hum” in their mee siam

Yesterday (2 Feb), Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Dr Ting Choon Meng and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, PM’s brother, were seen visiting Teck Ghee Market and having their breakfast there.

The Teck Ghee ward is helmed by PM Lee himself and it is part of the bigger Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Dr Tan wrote on his Facebook page, “This morning, Hsien Yang and I had breakfast with some friends at AMK food Centre. We met MP Ang Hin Kee and exchanged pleasantries and CNY greetings.”

They were all seen having mee siam for breakfast at a table in the hawker centre. Some netizens are wondering if there is any deeper meaning associated with the mee siam breakfast they had.

Eureka Hui Min Koh wrote that the trio might be “subtly mocking and attacking” PM Lee by choosing mee siam for breakfast. She also noticed that both Dr Tan and Dr Ting were wearing a pink colored shirt yesterday while eating mee siam. PM Lee himself usually wears pink when attending any community events.

Other netizens quipped that they were glad Dr Tan and the rest did not add “hum” (cockles) into their mee siam. Note that the mee siam dish isn’t served with cockles. Lasksa, another popular hawker dish, does come with it and some people like to eat laksa without cockles.

“Mee siam mai hum” originated from Gomez incident in 2006 GE

Mee siam, especially when mentioned together with “hum”, has been synonymous with PM Lee. The phrase “Mee siam mai hum” (mee siam without cockles) actually originated from the Gomez incident which occurred during the 2006 GE.

The incident began after Gomez claimed that he had submitted his minority-race candidate’s application form during a visit to the Elections Department with WP Chairman Sylvia Lim. Two days later, Gomez went to the Elections Department to enquire about the status. He was indignant when he was told that they had not received his form, and he told a civil servant there that there would be “consequences” if it had been misplaced. The following day, the Elections Department confirmed from their CCTV footage that Gomez had in fact, put the form in his bag and left the building without submitting it.

Gomez apologised after the release of the CCTV evidence and admitted that he had not filed his application. He said that he had been distracted by his busy schedule. But the PAP wouldn’t let him off and claimed that Gomez was intentionally hatching a ploy to try and gain publicity to cause confusion. During the campaigning period in 2006 GE, Gomez was hounded relentlessly by the PAP, police and media for a seemingly trivial mistake he made. A police report was even made against him and the police acted the very next day to summon him for interviews. He was being investigated for “criminal intimidation”.

The mainstream media devoted an entire 7 days to the saga, character-assassinating and attacking Gomez with PAP calling him a liar publicly. And even after the election, Gomez was arrested by the police at the airport when he was about to board a flight to Sweden where he was working then. In the end, Gomez was let off with a “stern police warning”.

Mr Brown’s satirical take on “Mee siam mai hum”

After the Gomez incident, blogger Lee Kin Mun, aka Mr Brown, soon created a “persistently non-political podcast” in which a fictitious Jeff Lopez went to the hawker centre to order a bowl of bak chor mee (noodles with minced meat) – without “ter kwa” (pig’s liver). The podcast was a satirical take on then Workers’ Party candidate James Gomez incident in the 2006 GE. The podcast went viral and most Singaporeans would have heard it [Link].

Later in the same year during the National Day Rally 2006, PM Lee used Lee Kin Mun’s podcast as an example to show that politics “is not all fun and games”.

“You put out a funny podcast. You talk about bak chor mee. I will say mee siam mai hum,” PM Lee said at the rally.

His last remark soon became a running joke as mee siam does not in fact contain any “hum”.

Some Singaporeans thus felt that PM Lee’s remark showed he might be out of touch with the ordinary folks and their way of life in Singapore.